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For as long as I can remember sea life has fascinated me.  My fascination probably began small, watching the fish swim in the freshwater tanks I would feed for neighbors on vacation for a few bucks or at my grandmother Sornson’s house when I was little.

But I think the day that I became truly enamored with all swimming creatures was the first time I walked into Chicago’s John G. Shedd Aquarium on a field trip and saw that central tank for the first time.  All those fish and turtles gliding through an aquatic ballet before my eyes mesmerized me, and I proceeded to gobble up the rest of the aquarium’s tanks one after another.

I have since seen more spectacular tanks (EPCOT’s The Living Seas, comes to mind), but even though the tank at Shedd seemed smaller when I revisited it as an adult, it will always have a special place in my heart.

With this fascination, of course, comes the strong desire to have a tank of my own.  A small piece of aquatic bliss right there in my home to watch whenever I want.  So I began research on putting together my own freshwater tank and mulling the options.

But, every time I would go to a pet store or browse an aquarium website I would be looking at the freshwater fish, but my eyes would continually be drawn to their saltwater cousins.  Somehow the tetras and neons seemed so dull when across the aisle swam angelfish and mollys.  So, caught between the increasing dullness of the denizens of freshwater and the horror stories of keeping a saltwater tank, I decided to put my aquariums dreams on hold for a while.

Then, during one of my bi-weekly geek convocations, a friend of mine mentioned he had a saltwater tank and had nearly no real maintenance.  I talked to him about it at a high level for a time and realized that the horror stories were really just stories if you did things the right way.  Seeing the glint of the aquarist returning to my eye, my wife made the cardinal mistake.

She took me to That Fish Place.

For those outside central Pennsylvania, That Pet Place/That Fish Place is a GINORMOUS pet store fully half of which is dedicated to the hobby of aquariums.  We walked into the store and my eyes drank in all the possibilities.  Yes, this hobby was involved.  But, this place has five marine biologists on staff to answer any questions you have.  When we saw the reef tanks, with their beautiful corals, colorful fish, and tiny little crustaceans, my wife was sold.

But, this is a hobby of patience.  Before I can even think of making even a single purchase I have to research, research, and research some more.  Every decision you make ripples through your system like a tsunami on crack.  Thus, every single step must be painstakingly examined before any move is made.  Patience is not something my wife like to hear about.  But, she’s decided this hobby is a great one for me to take part in.

She’ll just enjoy the results.

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